About The Kaʻū Calendar

Friday, May 12, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs, Friday, May 12, 2023

Jane Ueda, a Mizuno family member who worked at Mizuno Superette when Pāhala Shopping Center first opened, 
 is 97 years of age. At Friday's blessing, she cheered on the transition that keeps Pāhala's only grocery store open.
Photo by Julia Neal
MIZUNO SUPERETTE CHANGED HANDS ON FRIDAY, with a blessing and many maile lei. The Pāhala grocer transferred operations to 'Ohana Foods which also operates in Hilo and Nā'ālehu with its Wikiwiki 76 gas station and store. Members of the Mizuno family, including 97-year old Jane Ueda, who worked at the store when the shopping center first opened, gave a thumbs up for the transition. Speakers also thanked Rochelle Hara, who came to Pāhala over 33 years ago with her late husband Derek Hara, Rochelle operating Mizuno's for many years on her own until making the sale to Olson and turning over operations to 'Ohana Foods.

Olson Trust CEO Jeff Clark and Ed Olson, who purchased Mizuno Store to keep it open under the stewardship of
Carl Okuyama who also operates his Nā'ālehu food store and gas station as part of 'Ohana Foods. Photo by Julia Neal
    Longtime Mizuno workers with new responsibilities and titles in the 'Ohana Foods company received lei and congratulations from chief of 'Ohana Foods, Carl Okuyama. He talked about the history of providing food in the village, with Mizuno's starting in the sugar cane camp in 1925. He said he plans to keep the name Mizuno and honor the history of the town, including production of a pictorial history at the entrance to the store and online.
Assistant manager Carla Andrade accepts a poi pounder
on behalf of retiring Mizuno owner Rochelle Hara. The poi
pounder was handmade by retired  Kaʻū High teacher
Adrian Akau. It is a gift from Pāhala Food Hub
to honor Hara's 33 years of dedication in providing
food for the village. Photo by Julia Neal

       Pastor Troy Gacayan, who also blessed the opening of Longs at Pāhala Shopping Center in 2013, gave the blessing for the Mizuno transition on Friday. He talked about the Mizuno family being steeped in the history of food in Pāhala. The store was important to his own childhood in Pāhala. He would go there often for snacks. It was the place where he could often find his grandfather sitting on the bench talking story with his friends. 
    Oldtimers who these days sit outside Mizuno in the early mornings came to the blessing and enjoyed free refreshments. 
    The blessing included rubbing a special oil on the main entry door of the store while attendees held up their hands for the blessing.
    On hand on Friday were leaders of the Edmund C. Olson Trust, including Ed Olson himself who green-lighted the purchase of the store to keep it from closing down. CEO Jeff Clark, OK Farms head Troy Keolanui, Real Estate manager Dan Aldrich, and Kaʻū Coffee Mill manager Lou Daniele joined in. Frank Lorenzo, Sr., who was born and raised in Pāhala and serves as manager of Kaʻū Farms Management for Olson, also joined in the blessing.
    Olson Trust bought the main part of the shopping center in April of 2021, with its bank, post office, Longs and the addition of a hair salon and coffee shop.
    Also at the blessing was Kona Moran, the real estate broker who praised all parties involved and the community for seeing that Pāhala kept its food store. 
    From the 'Ohana Foods family, were Carly Okuyama, Amy Okuyama and daughter in law Sherry Okuyama. 
    As a mahalo for caring about food for the community, Pāhala Food Hub gifted to Rochelle Hara, Ed Olson, Carl Okuyama and Kona Moran, poi pounders carved from stone by retired Kaʻū High School teacher Adrian Akau.
     For now the hours remain the same, 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and 8 a.m to noon on Sundays. 
     With the change in ownership, EBT and WIC registrations must be transferred and the ability to use these cards at Mizuno will be activated within a couple of weeks. 
     With the store depleted of much of its stock during the last weeks of sales, it will be restocked with familiar and new items this coming week, said Okuyama. He also said he is interested in hearing suggested services and items to carry. Suggestions can be dropped off at the store. 

Pastor Troy Gacayan practices the tradition of oiling the entry to Mizuno as guests hold up their
hands during the blessing for the opening. Photo by Julia Neal

PROMISE AND PERIL ARE IN THE LATEST UHERO FORECAST FOR HAWAI'I'S ECONOMY. University of Hawai'i Economic Research Organization released its report on Friday saying:
     Recent developments bring both promise and peril for Hawai'i. Tourism prospects are positive, despite the delayed Japanese market recovery. Construction activity will remain high, and inflation is receding rapidly, setting the stage for real income gains. 
    On the flip side, the Fed’s aggressive rate hikes and liquidity problems sparked by recent bank failures threaten the US and global economies. A national recession will weigh on Hawaii later this year, but local sources of strength should keep our heads above water. 
  • The external environment facing Hawai'i is dicey. The Federal Reserve appears likely to maintain its high interest rate policy for some time, and tighter lending conditions associated with recent bank failures will also weigh on US growth. A recession beginning late this year will hold US GDP growth to 1.5% this year and 0.3% in 2024. 
    • Tighter credit conditions will also contribute to a weaker global economy. Canada will fare only a bit better than the US. In Japan, lagging exports and high inflation will offset government support. Australia’s economy will expand only modestly, as inflation and higher interest rates limit consumer spending. While China’s economic recovery is underway, there is no indication of a pending upturn in their travel to the US. 
    • Despite weakening external conditions, the visitor industry has continued to perform well, with activity only slightly below 2019 levels. The US market still dominates, but it will soften as the year progresses. Further international market recovery will sustain visitor numbers. Lagging Japanese travel will continue to be a problem. 
    • Solid visitor demand continues to benefit hotels, causing room rates to soar on the Neighbor Islands. Statewide, real revenue per available room is now 6% higher than in 2019. Visitor spending has been strong despite the incomplete recovery of international markets. Both the number of visitor days and real visitor spending will fall slightly next year, before returning to moderate growth. Over the long run, climate change may become a substantial tourism challenge. 
    • The Hawai'i labor market is healthy, with about 3.5% unemployment. Labor force recovery and softening labor demand have largely eliminated the overall worker shortage, although businesses still report hiring challenges. Labor force recovery differs by county, mostly because of differences in inward and outward migration. Net out-migration at the statewide level may be due in part to heightened cost of
The team at U.H. Economic Research Organization. Photo from UHERO
living concerns in the face of challenging pandemic-era economic conditions. 
    • Weakening US tourism, tight credit, and high interest rates will weigh on the Hawaii economy this year and next. The unemployment rate will rise above 4% by the beginning of next year, and moderate job gains will not resume until 2025. 
    • Hawai'i inflation has receded more quickly than in the US overall. This will support income gains. Real income nearly recovered to the pre-pandemic level last year and will grow at a 2.5% average annual pace over the next three years. 
    • Because of surging home prices and mortgage interest rates, affording a single-family home now takes twice the income it did a decade ago. The culprit is a lack of new supply, due in part to regulatory hurdles. Major public sector projects will support a high level of construction activity. The construction job count will top 41,000 by 2026. 
    • Despite heightened downside risks, Hawaii is still likely to avoid an outright recession. Like the US overall, how much our economy weakens will depend importantly on the Federal Reserve, in particular whether the Fed eases policy now that inflation is declining and the US economy is beginning to slow. Higher rates for longer would impose a significant burden.

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar. See latest print edition at kaucalendar.com, in the mail and on stands.

PRODUCERS OF KAʻŪ COFFEE AND OTHER LOCAL PRODUCTS are invited by state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism to the Autumn 2023 Tokyo International Gift Show, or TIGS. DBEDT sets up the Hawa'i Pavilion at TIGS, Sept. 6-8 at Tokyo International Exhibition Center (Tokyo Big Sight). Deadline to apply is May 26. Cost of a booth is $1,500. TGS is the largest trade show in Japan with more than 4,500 booths and 200,000 attendees.n According to DBED Director James Kunane Tokioko, demand for authentic Hawai'i made products is growing.

OFFICER OWNED TRUCKS WILL BE USED FOR POLICE DUTY, according to Hawai'i Police Department, which announced Friday the addition of trucks to the fleet of traditionally looking police cars and officer owned police cars. Police officers are now authorized to use pickup trucks with open beds as subsidized police vehicles. In the coming weeks, Hawai‘i Island residents may see more subsidized police pickup trucks on the road and more officers driving pick-up trucks with blue lights and sirens while on patrol.
    Officers are authorized to use “crew cab” configurations with four full sized doors, including the following models:
• 2021-2023 Ford F150 Crew Cab, short bed
Pickups were recently approved for use by HPD. Back
in 1978, HPD approved the use of four-wheel drive cars.
Photo from HPD 1978-1979 report
• 2021-2023 Toyota Tundra Crew Cab
• 2019-2023 Chevrolet Silverado, 1500 Crew Cab, short bed
• 2019-2023 GMC Sierra 1500 Crew Cab, short bed
• 2019-2023 Ram 1500 (5th Generation/non-classic) Crew Cab short bed
    “Given that Hawai‘i Island encompasses vast swaths of rural—and very rugged—terrain, we anticipate our police officers will be able to serve the community better, faster, and most importantly, safer,” said Police Chief Benjamin Moszkowicz.
      His statement echoes the past, when in 1978 police officers in Hawi'i County were first allowed to use four wheel drive vehicles, with HPD pointing to rugged roads and safety concerns.  
    As the public gets used to police pickup trucks, if motorists see one of these police vehicles in their rear-view mirror with blue emergency lights illuminated, please slow down, and pull over. Officers operating pickup trucks with blue lights atop the vehicle should be in uniform.
    Those unsure about a police vehicle, slow down, pull over, and call the police non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311 to verify the officer’s license plate.
    A video describing the new initiative can be seen on the department's Youtube channel by clicking on this link: https://youtu.be/4JUMJvnUD-0.

LINE DANCING RESUMES art Kauaha'ao Congregational Church onWednesday, May 24th from 4 p.m, until 5:30 p.m. For Beginner Level Dances with instruction by Delana Phillips, suggested donation are $6 per class or $25 for six classes. No prior attendance or experience is required
On May 31 there will be a two-hour dance party from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Bring a dish to share. Bottled water and sodas and snacks will be provided. Suggested donation is $10 per person for dancers, watchers, judges, photographers and eaters.